Universal's Despicable Me 2 led the way this weekend with an estimated $82.5 million. That brings the film's five-day start to a massive $142.1 million. The five-day start for the highly anticipated sequel from Illumination Entertainment just out-paced the $141.04 million five-day start of 2010's Toy Story 3 (which debuted on a Friday). Despicable Me 2 also slightly outpaced the recent $82.43 million opening weekend performance of Monsters University, which is especially impressive given that Monsters University opened on a Friday (Monsters University grossed $105.29 million during its first five days).
Despicable Me 2 claimed the third largest ever unadjusted Independence Day weekend debut (behind only the $97.85 million take of 2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the $88.16 million gross of 2004's Spider-Man 2). Making the film's start even more impressive is that like 2010's Despicable Me; Despicable Me 2 was far less expensive than the typical computer animated film from production companies such as Walt Disney Animation, Pixar and DreamWorks Animation.
Despicable Me 2 has shown some signs of early front-loading in its initial days of release, though that isn't really much of a concern given that the film is outpacing its already lofty pre-release expectations. The five-day to three-day weekend ratio for the film came in at 1.72 to 1. With a strong A rating on CinemaScore and none of the late summer's many upcoming family options expected to be sure fire blockbusters, it is likely only a matter of time before daily holds for Despicable Me 2 really begin to stabilize. The audience breakdown for Despicable Me 2 skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (60 percent) and towards moviegoers under 25 (55 percent), which suggests that the film could be relatively stronger on weekdays going forward.
Disney's The Lone Ranger finished in a very distant second place this weekend with an estimated $29.4 million. The western starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer grossed $48.94 million in its first five days of release. Clearly, the film's performance has been very disappointing, given both pre-release expectations and more importantly, the film's enormous cost. Scheduling The Lone Ranger against Despicable Me 2 always seemed to be a risky proposition and there is no question that the PG-13 rated Lone Ranger lost out to the PG-rated Despicable Me 2 with family audiences in a very big way. The five-day start for The Lone Ranger was much more in line with the $40.14 million start of 2009's far less expensive Public Enemies than it was with the type of performances typically seen by big budget releases over Independence Day weekend.
After a soft start on Wednesday, The Lone Ranger did stabilize on Thursday, though that stabilization was short lived as the film wasn't able to build momentum once the weekend arrived. The film registered a five-day to three-day weekend ratio of 1.66 to 1. When combined with the film's B+ rating on CinemaScore, it does appear that The Lone Ranger is playing significantly better with audiences than it has with critics. At the same time overall word of mouth still appears to be mixed and the poor critical reviews are helping keep moviegoers away to begin with. Skewing towards older and more rural moviegoers could boost the film's holding power a bit going forward, but not to the type of extent needed to make up for the film's poor five-day start.
Holding up very nicely this weekend was Fox's The Heat. The R-rated comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy fell just 36 percent to place in third with an estimated $25.0 million. This weekend's hold was especially impressive given that the film faced competition from both Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger. Both Bullock and McCarthy have strong recent histories when it comes to holding power at the box office and it appears that The Heat won't be any different. The Heat has grossed $86.39 million in ten days, which is very strong given the film's modest price tag for a high-profile summer release. The film is currently running 25 percent stronger than the $69.16 million ten-day start of 2009's The Proposal (which fell 45 percent in its second weekend to gross $18.58 million).
It was a tale of two different performances this weekend for fellow blockbusters Monsters University and World War Z. Disney's Monsters University took a massive hit from Despicable Me 2 as it fell 57 percent to place in fourth with an estimated $19.6 million. On the other hand, Paramount's World War Z fell 39 percent to round out this weekend's top five with an estimated $18.2 million and likely benefited a bit from moviegoers who were looking for a live-action Independence Day alternative to The Lone Ranger. To date, Monsters University has grossed $216.13 million in 17 days, which is in line with expectations. Meanwhile, thanks in part to stronger than expected holding power, World War Z continues to outpace expectations with a 17-day take of $158.76 million.
Lionsgate's Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain was off to a very strong start this weekend with an eighth place estimated take of $10.1 million. Through five days of release the comedy concert documentary has grossed an excellent $17.46 million. Let Me Explain was only playing in 876 locations this weekend, which gave the film a healthy $11,530 per-location average over the three-day frame. Let Me Explain has already far exceeded the $7.71 million lifetime gross of last year's Laugh at My Pain. Much like Despicable Me 2, Let Me Explain was relatively front-loaded towards Wednesday and Thursday, as it had a five-day to three-day ratio of 1.73 to 1. However, in the bigger picture the early front-loading doesn't mean much for Let Me Explain given the size of the film's five-day start. The timing of Let Me Explain is perfect for Kevin Hart, as the comedian will be transitioning into a leading actor in the very near future with upcoming films such as Ride Along and About Last Night.
The audience breakdown for Let Me Explain skewed towards female moviegoers (55 percent) and towards moviegoers 25 and older (54 percent). The film received a strong A rating on CinemaScore.